Free Online Language Courses from the Foreign Service Institute

Update: The site is returning an error message right now. Even their forums are down. I'll keep an eye on it through the day and post a note when it comes back up.
(5-1-2010 12:23 GMT -06)
Update: the site is back up. (5-1-2010 7:56pm GMT -06)
The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) teaches foreign languages to the U.S. Government's top agencies and diplomats.

From the site:

"...Welcome to - the home for language courses developed by the Foreign Service Institute. These courses were developed by the United States government and are in the public domain.
"This site is dedicated to making these language courses freely available in an electronic format. This site is not affiliated in any way with any government entity; it is an independent, non-profit effort to foster the learning of worldwide languages."

Very interesting site, I looked around for quite a while. The interface is black and white and everything you need is easy to see and get to.
Course materials are in audio and text formats. The materials I tested were in MP3 format for audio, and PDF for text. MP3's are labeled "Tapes" in the listings and PDF's are listed as text. Some languages have more course material than others - for example, Spanish has more material than Sinhala.

One of the things I liked as I was going through course material (in the one foreign language I know a little about) is that much of the information is presented in context. There's background and cultural tidbits that make it more lively and interesting than a textbook. On other words, some of the "here's how it's done, and here's why" that I'm always curious about. Go forth, explore, and have fun. :)

FSI Language Courses

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by Anonymous on 30. April 2010 - 14:31  (48821)

Bonjour Rhiannon. Thanks for this latest offering. When you consider the extremely high price of language learning packages today- this is a real gem of a link. I presume this site will carry no ads from the overpriced Ro$et*a $t*ne group.

by Anonymous on 30. April 2010 - 14:56  (48824)

I second your opinion and must say Rhiannon is good in finding gems like this.Thanks a lot...


by wildweaselkeeper on 8. May 2010 - 15:18  (49344)

Thank you; great find. These are the kind of things I used to have time to look for but don't any more. I've been looking for something to brush up on German and learn some Spanish. Now all I have to do is find the time.

Thank you, very much, for sharing.

by rhiannon on 8. May 2010 - 19:23  (49360)

My pleasure. :)

by Chilli on 23. November 2011 - 18:23  (83791)

WOW! I was semi thinking about learning Spanish (I know a little already) a while back, but didn't feel like paying hundreds of $'s for some software where they sell it in sections and you end up spending so much it's ridiculous. I looked online for quiet a while one day and just didn't find much in the free materials. This site is a GEM! If I can get the motivation now to really take learning Spanish seriously, I will be using these materials. I took a quick look and the Audio "tapes" are great! Thanks so much for finding/sharing.

by rhiannon on 23. November 2011 - 22:10  (83796)

I'm delighted you like the site. I like the how things are put together there, it makes more sense than learning by rote. =)

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